October 8, 2012
Browse down the aisle of any video store and you will see snippets of someone’s reality. The camera, which never lies, tells a story through its lens. A hand-held camera tells one version; one on a tripod tells another. A wide-angled lens pulls in the scenery; a close shot surveys the landscape of the actor’s face.
We all carry our own cameras through life, peering into the window of others’ realities with our distinctive lens. Sometimes our film version is all we can see. In our every day lives that is the place from which we operate mostly. But what if you were allow yourself to view the world from another person’s point of view; borrow their camera for a moment, so to speak. What would you see?
My guess is you would find we are great at telling ourselves stories, even if they aren’t true.
Each of us stars in the film of our own making. We get to choose which role we play. We can also decide whether we want to play in the films other people provide for us: family, friends, loved ones, even enemies.
The choice is ours. Every day we start anew so if you don’t like the current plot you are in, you can change it. It might require a different kind of camera, a broader lens, or new actors altogether. The director is the one person who does not leave the set. That director is you.
What kind of film do you want to make today?
September 24, 2012
Serenity Stewart sang in her minivan. Occasionally, she’d step in front of a choir and do the same. But for years she hid her secret gift of song, in which she had been classically trained, just to get by.
With four children to raise on her own, she kept her creative self locked away while she did what she needed to do. Working as an office administrator for a busy health care practice, Serenity ran a tight ship, always looking after others.
But that creative self needed to live. It took Serenity’s nearly dying to breathe life back into it.
In July 2005 she suffered a brain aneurysm that left her bleeding out of her nose and even her eyes. As she lay on the cold ER table, her last view was of the gorgeous doctor with tan, tight arms scrubbing up for surgery.
“God, this can’t be my last vision,” she spoke to the sky. “Look at how beautiful this doctor is. I’ve got some unfinished business to do!” It was this sense of humor that got her through the next months of recovery. For the first time in her life, she started to strip away the layers of “mainstream” as she calls it to really live. In an act of self-discovery, she began to realize that an empty vase has the most potential.
“Every possibility starts with courage,” she told me over the phone. She took a year off and sailed around the world. She discovered her passion for deep sea fishing and even caught a marlin off the coast of San Diego. She literally emptied herself out to start anew.
Serenity now sings jazz reminiscent of the 1940s. Hers is sultry music that speaks of a long-lost era of community and togetherness. At the end of September she will start her P.S. I Love You tour, which will land her in Paris next March (yes, I’ll be going!).
Music helps her and her audience tune into the healing energy that only music can bring. It is a meditation, and a dedication, to life.
Listen to one of her songs today. You will be glad you did!
September 20, 2012
Fame. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I work with famous people on occasion when I’m on a film or TV set. And what I’ve observed is the pressure they endure on a daily basis, trying to uphold a standard that the public has set for them. It is tiring, taxing and at best, unnerving. Everyone has an opinion of you and if you aren’t in the best of moods, it somehow lands in the tabloids the next day.
My sister once said, “I’d like to be just left of the limelight. In the mix, but not in the public eye.”
I see what she means now.
The other day I had the chance to drink champagne with several celebrities, but after a day’s work in a dusty studio that smelled of manure and pyrotechnics, I was ready for a shower and some pizza with the kids instead. So I drove the hour home, racing through the door with a heightened level of excitement to see everyone again, only to find my family busy with their iPods, laptops and television sets.
Enter the feeling of let down. It’s what my friend Donald calls the moment of doom right before you enter your familiar space at home. You know it will be different than you hope it to be, but hope dies last, as they say.
It wasn’t until we had assembled at the dinner table an hour later that I realized why I had run home instead of sipping the bubbly with the stars. It was a moment of belly laughs and connection and jokes with the kids that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It may have been slower in coming than I had wished, but the love was there all along beneath the distraction of our digital world.
Fame can’t give you that. Family can.
September 19, 2012
Every once in a while someone comes along to change your life in surprising ways. You don’t expect it. You don’t anticipate the vastness of their effect on your life. And then there it is ~ a newness you never thought possible.
Alanis Morissette is one of those people. And because I love her so much, in all her frailty and grace and honesty, I thought I’d pen a love letter just to say it to her too. So here goes.
It may seem strange to receive a letter from someone you don’t know, but I’m sure you have had some practice. How did you jump inside my head, read my thoughts, then sing about it like that? You recorded seemingly every painful, joyful, messy, divine experience I have ever had. And you belted it out like you had experienced the same thing too.
I love you for your honesty. I love you for your courage. I love you for showing me your authentic self.
Your latest album Havoc and Bright Lights once again hit a nerve. At first I was a bit skeptical as your sound seems to have ripened with age. Maybe it was the years between this album and your prior one, Flavors of Entanglement, which I played until the CD gave up cough and wheezing into retirement (I burned a new one – totally legally of course!). Maybe it was motherhood, which is bound to change anyone, but your lyrics, once digested, are as profound and moving as all your other work. As a fellow writer, I am left astounded by your keen ability to squeeze multiple human experiences into tiny words.
Listening to your voice gives me the sense that all is right with the world, even as you sing of the things that are not.
There is another reason why I am writing you. You give me courage. You give me the feeling I can do anything. And while you sing, I think you are simultaneously listening to my reaction. It is as if you know how I feel. That is your art. That is your talent. That is the beauty of you.
You sing of empathy and how you appreciate that in others. You speak of the creative spirit in Magical Child that carries us forward. You recognize how powerful women are (and love them for it). You ask if we have found our own true North, that direction in life that keeps us centered and on task.
I’m not sure I have yet, but I am trying. With your help I may just get there yet.
July 22, 2012
It is true that once you leave home, you never really fully return because a part of you is left with the people you meet along the way. If that is so, I have my heart scattered on five continents.
But what is also true is that music can bring the world together, even when the actual musicians live far apart.
PlayingForChange.com is a movement that brings musicians together from around the world. They all perform the same song, in harmony, at the same time. And get this: Timeless Media is their for-profit arm that funds the project.
It goes something like this:
So you see. It doesn’t really matter if loved ones are far away. There is always a way to connect through technology. Of course, the real thing is good too!
July 17, 2012
About two months ago I made a radical change in the form of one baby step. The result was a shift in my worldview, I dropped ten pounds and have never been happier in my life.
The baby step came in the form of no more television. According to positive psychologist Martin Seligman, watching television for extended periods of time is the equivalent of placing yourself in a mild state of depression. Apathy follows.
It may seem simple enough to snap off the TV and do something else, but what happened thereafter for me was life-altering. Instead of flopping in front of the tube every night, I began writing more, eating less and sleeping better. I’ve even started learning French, thanks to supportive friends who have helped me tremendously (je vous adore!). It is as though I have fully recognized that how I spend my time really does make a difference.
And it shows.
My negative emotions, while not completely eradicated, have receded to the background. Sure, I still get upset with my kids, but I am no longer subjecting myself to the constant barrage of negativity that comes from the TV.
I had no idea how impactful one decision could be.
It may seem paradoxical for someone who actually works in television and film not to want to actually watch it. I am still impressed by images on the Internet, occasionally read the newspaper and peruse business Web sites to keep up on the latest developments. But abandoning my nightly tube-watching has uplifted my spirits and has had a centering effect on my well-being.
When we look at our habits, we may think we can’t live without certain things. We may be so convinced of their inalienable place in our lives that we don’t even question the habit itself. But I bet you anything there is something you can do without and that will actually make you feel better once you depart from its stranglehold around your neck.
What happens next can be quite amazing. Suddenly new people emerge to cheer you on in your new-found authenticity. Perhaps they have been there all along, but you felt you didn’t have the time to pay attention. Or maybe they are new friends you’ve discovered because you’ve magically got so much more time through that one baby step to really enjoy them.
It is an endeavor worth pursuing. What baby step can you take today to make that radical change?
July 9, 2012
Not many people are talking about personal liberation these days. Maybe it’s because most of us feel trapped and think it’s a normal way of being. But I have news.
My friend recently called me to say she had lost her juicy, but that she knew how she could get it back.
By doing at least one crazy thing a day.
Crazy is, by definition, not normal. It requires you to move outside your boundaries to a new way of being that you, and others around you, might deem “unusual”. But it is in the very act of doing the unusual that we find that juicy space, which leads to flow, which then leads us to slow down and really enjoy life.
Everyone has their own personal definition of crazy. For some it might mean moving to a new place where you don’t speak the language (yet). For others, it might involve leaving a comfortable job for one that is ultimately more fulfilling. Or maybe it is acting out a scene on a street corner just to practice your art. Your special kind of crazy is what will get you out of your funk and back into joy.
And joy is something we could all use a lot more of.
Doing something out of the ordinary sets energy free that is trapped inside you. And that has a ripple effect on your surroundings that resonates with your energy. Who knows? You might even infect someone else to embrace their crazy too.
And then the world will sleep a little sounder, laugh a little louder and dance a little longer.
All in the name of personal liberation.
Are you with me?